Author Archives: Costas Karakatsanis, Fine Arts, Provenance Researcher

G. David Thompson: A Pittsburgh Art Patron and His Collection


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Pausing near Aristide Maillol’s bronze nude called ‘Night,’ G. David Thompson points out other sculpture he commissioned for his garden. Photographed by Yale Joel for the May 16, 1960 issue of Life magazine.

In May 1961, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York presented an exhibition titled One Hundred Paintings from the G. David Thompson Collection. A few older artists (Cezanne, Monet, Degas) were represented in the exhibition, but the impressive check list, though not comprehensive, was a veritable who-is-who of artists whose main activity was or continued to be in the 20th century. From Josef Albers to Adja Yunkers, the exhibition offered one-man’s viewpoint of contemporary western painting. Artists especially dear to the collector were represented by multiple works: Braque, Klee, Legér, Matisse, Miró, Mondrian, Picasso, Schwitters, and Wols accounted for more than half of the total, with Picasso’s 12 listed works the most by any artist. Mr. Thompson, in his own introduction to the exhibition catalogue, expressed his thoughts on collectors and collecting, emphasizing his preference for exploring in depth the work of selected artists instead of aiming at a comprehensive survey. Indeed, in several cases, he had acquired more than 40-50 and in a few cases more than 100 works by a single artist. He attributed this to personal taste and individual preferences but also offered more pragmatic considerations as explanation, such as market availability.

By the time of the Guggenheim exhibition, Mr. Thompson of Pittsburgh was not only a nationally but also an internationally known art collector, whose profile had been featured in Life and Time and in several European publications. What was less well known is that by the time the exhibition came to New York after several European venues, Mr. Thompson had already sold nearly all the art to a Swiss dealer, as the New York Times reported just days before the exhibition’s opening. But we’ll have more on this later.

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Charles J. Rosenbloom: Devoted Supporter and Benefactor


Gerald L. Brockhurst, Portrait of Charles J. Rosenbloom, 1939, oil on canvas, Gift of the Estate of Charles J. Rosenbloom

Gerald L. Brockhurst, Portrait of Charles J. Rosenbloom, 1939, oil on canvas, Gift of the Estate of Charles J. Rosenbloom

Pittsburgher Charles J. Rosenbloom (1898–1973) was a lawyer, businessman, philanthropist, and passionate supporter of the state of Israel; he was also a music lover, bibliophile, and art collector of breadth, refinement, and taste. A staunch supporter of many Pittsburgh institutions, he was already a noted art collector when he began his official association with Carnegie Institute and its Fine Arts Department (later Carnegie Museum of Art), when he was elected trustee of the Carnegie Institute and member of the Fine Arts Committee in December 1939. He remained a devoted friend and benefactor of the museum throughout the rest of his life. In addition to his long service on the museum board, throughout the years he provided funds for a diverse group of acquisitions, gifted art from his collection, loaned works for important exhibitions, and, finally, hand-picked a large and important part of that collection as a bequest to the museum. Continue reading